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The virome of vector mosquitoes and its effect on pathogen transmission


November 2019 - November 2023

Group and collaboration

Dr. Ronald van Rij & Dr. Teun Bousema - experimentel virology, medical microbiology, RIMLS, Radboudumc
PhD student: Michele Schinkel, Radboudumc

Project description

The emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases is a typical One-Health problem. Mosquitoes play an important role in these emerging infectious diseases as their blood-feeding behaviour has the potential to transmit pathogens between disparate hosts. Indeed, nearly one quarter of them is vector-borne and causes some of the most debilitating human diseases. The general aim of this project is to understand how the mosquito virome affects transmission of important human pathogens, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and the arbovirus Dengue virus. We focus on the mosquito species with the highest relevance for transmission of human pathogenic arboviruses and malaria parasites, Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae. Mosquitoes will be collected in a large urban setting and a rural agricultural area in Africa, shipped to the Netherlands and analysed. We will try to obtain insights into the prevalence of viruses across mosquito populations in different ecological environments and the stability of the virome over time. Finally, we will provide insights into the ability of the virome to affect pathogen transmission potential, thus giving insights into pathogen transmission dynamics.


i: Define the endogenous virome of relevant vector mosquitoes in regions of active malaria and arbovirus transmission, ii) characterise the identified viruses, and iii) analyse how they affect pathogen transmission potential.

Vector-borne diseases is the overarching theme for more than 10 PhD tracks in NCOH projects to create new interdisciplinary, inter-thematic, and inter-institutional research collaborations.

PhD student interview

Interview: ‘I should have been in Africa right now, catching mosquitoes for my research’

“My ultimate goal is to find an insect-specific virus that inhibits the transmission of malaria and arboviruses to humans.”